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Unformatted text preview: Health Literacy and Happiness: A Community-based Study Erik Angner Æ Michael J. Miller Æ Midge N. Ray Æ Kenneth G. Saag Æ Jeroan J. Allison Accepted: 9 March 2009 / Published online: 22 March 2009 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009 Abstract The relationship between health literacy and happiness was explored using a cross-sectional survey of community-dwelling older primary-care patients. Health literacy status was estimated with the following previously validated question: ‘‘How confident are you in filling out medical forms by yourself?’’ Happiness was measured using an adapted Subjective Happiness Scale. Of all patients ( n = 383), 62% were younger than 65, 28% were men, and 39% were African–American. In bivariate analysis, health literacy was E. Angner ( & ) Department of Philosophy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA e-mail: [email protected] E. Angner Á M. N. Ray Á K. G. Saag Á J. J. Allison Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics of Musculoskeletal Diseases, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA E. Angner Á M. N. Ray Á K. G. Saag Á J. J. Allison Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA M. J. Miller Clinical and Administrative Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Oklahoma, Tulsa, OK, USA M. N. Ray School of Health Professions, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA J. J. Allison Division of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA E. Angner Department of Finance, Economics, and Quantitative Methods, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA J. J. Allison Division of General Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA 123 Soc Indic Res (2010) 95:325–338 DOI 10.1007/s11205-009-9462-5 positively correlated with happiness (Spearman’s q = 0.261; p \ 0.001). Multivariable logistic regression revealed that lowest-quartile happiness was associated with poverty (OR: 2.25; 95% CI: 1.17–4.31), unfavorable self-rated health (OR: 4.16; 95% CI: 2.34– 7.40), and lower health literacy (OR: 2.31; 95% CI: 1.23–4.32). The results suggest that inadequate health literacy may be an obstacle to happiness above and beyond its effect on poverty and health, and offers partial support for the inclusion of general and health literacy scores in composite quality-of-life and human development indices. Though alternative explanations are possible, we speculate that the association between health literacy and happiness might be mediated by a sense of personal control. Keywords General literacy Á Health literacy Á Happiness Á Quality of life Á Personal control 1 Introduction With the recent rise of happiness studies, the causes and correlates of happiness are attracting increasing amounts of attention. To date, researchers have studied the rela- tionship between happiness and a wide variety of personality, socio-demographic, health-...
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